Tuesday, February 28, 2006

It's a little wet...

I rode in to work today.  19 miles one way.  Takes 1:20.  Burned over 1,000 calories.  It rained the whole way.  I was fine warmth wise and the rain wasn’t pouring just a light rain or sprinkle but spending over an hour in it gets you wet.  Things I learned:

  1. Wrap your clothes in plastic or bags otherwise you look like you pee'd your pants.  Yep.  I got to work, pulled my clothes out of the pannier and my pants were wet because the rain had soaked through in spots.  So most of the pant leg was dry accept right around my crotch.  Nice.
  2. Bring some extra socks and gloves.  They’re wet.  And now I’m going to have to put on my wet socks and gloves for the ride home which is not going to be pleasant.

Otherwise I planned pretty well.  I carried an extra backpack today to bring in some extra hangers so I could hang things to dry them out.  You might be also interested to know that my office doesn’t have a shower.  That’s right I rode over and hour and then didn’t take a shower.  But I betcha I looked funny in the bathroom, washing my hair in the sink, and wiping my body down with a hand towel.  I also used these anti-bacterial wipes to wipe down my whole body and get me smelling “fresh and clean as whistle” (queue Old Spice commercial).  I actually don’t feel gross so I think this will work.

I should also mention that I’ve been meaning to post the picture of my going away party but that I’ve been hemming-and-hawing over a good website to host it on and/or do it on my own site http://www.mketopdx.com.  I did actually upload them to Kodak’s EasyShare Gallery and it did a nice job, let’s you create a photo album, let’s friends/family purchase photo’s, etc.  But… I’m kind of a geek – I don’t like being told how to do something when I know there’s other ways.  Kodak forces viewers to log in, only uploads via their client, I have to email myself to get the darn link to the album or else email everyone through there interface etc. etc…  I don’t like that.  So I’ve been doing some hunting and I ran across Flickr.  And actually it’s been getting some hot reviews.  You can print or pickup your photo’s at Target.  The photo browsing and searching is phenomenal.  The photo slide show is awesome as well.  I’ve used Flickr in the past to host a couple of images that I used on a forum but it’s gone through quite an upgrade lately and looks like it’s recently been purchased by Yahoo.  So I think I’m going to use that and see how it works.  I’ll post the link to the photo’s later.

Tonight Heidi and I are headed to a Fat Tuesday festival on the North side of Portland.  Someday I’ll have to give you a breakdown on how the city is structured into these 4 quadrants.  NW, SW, NE, SE and all the roads revolve around that naming convention.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Well it's been 3 weeks now in the Pacific NW. It's rained a total of 1 day. Light rain drops not the downpours of the Midwest. I didn't do any riding this weekend unless you count the 2 mile round trip to the grocery store. I've always wanted to try and do my shopping, commuting, etc by bicycle and make the use of the auto be a exception to the rule. Although I hate to admit it, it helps that out here you aren't viewed upon as being a freak if you walk around the grocery store in your cycling gear. I can't count how many times I've seen people using cloth bags from home instead of the plastic bags in the checkout lane. If someone did that in the Midwest there'd be 'looks' of 'is that person a freak' and sighs of disgust because it takes just a little bit longer for the checkout person to load the grocerys in cloth bags that don't fit the little metal pastic expanding thing for the plastic bags. I think it's cool - they don't recycle the damn plastic bags so where they hell do all those bags end up?

On Friday after work I headed directly to this bar/restaurant/hotel/venue called White Eagle Saloon to meet up with my old friend Jenn. There was a good band playing background music while we talked, drank, and enjoyed happy hour. Heidi showed up around 8 or 9 and we got some dinner there as well. The next band at 9 was pretty good too. The place had good food and it's own brewed beer. The atmoshpere was laid back and casual. They also have 10 rooms that you can stay in.

Heidi went to Eugene, her home town which is about 2 hours south of Portland, to visit her parents and spend some time with her friend Anne so I spent the weekend catching up on some gaming (dinged the 'lock 29 & 30), catching up on watching the Tour of California (grats Floyd Landis), lobotomized myself by watching some World's Strongest Man on ESPN, and also watched some of the Olympics - all the watching was done via the DVR too - no commercials! Anyone like Wallace and Grommit? I think my good friend Kevin back at Harley mentioned that to me awhile back and Heidi had already heard of it and likes it. So we watched Wallace & Gromit in Three Amazing Adventures Sunday night and plan on watching Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit later this week.

Friday, February 24, 2006

You know you are from the NW when....

Honestly I never pass around those jokes you get from your parents that make your eyes roll up in your head.... but sometimes, on a sunny Friday afternoon you just can't help yourself. This is just so very true and thought it would give Rick's friend good info about the Pacific NW. The Pacific Northwest According To Jeff Foxworthy: "You know you are from the Northwest if: 1. You know the state flower (Mildew). 2. You feel guilty throwing aluminum cans or paper in the trash. 3. Use the statement "sun break" and know what it means. 4. You know more than 10 ways to order coffee. 5. You know more people who own boats than air conditioners. 6. You feel overdressed wearing a suit to a nice restaurant. 7. You stand on a deserted corner in the rain waiting for the "Walk" signal. 8. You consider that if it has no snow or has not recently erupted, it is not a real mountain. 9. You can taste the difference between Starbucks, Seattle's Best, and Veneto's. 10. You know the difference between Chinook, Coho, and Sockeye Salmon. 11. You know how to pronounce Sequim, Puyallup, Issaquah, Oregon, Yakima, and Willamette. 12. You consider swimming an indoor sport. 13. You can tell the difference between Japanese, Chinese and Thai food. 14. In winter, you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark-while only working eight-hour days. 15. You never go camping without waterproof matches and a poncho. 16. You are not fazed by "Today's forecast: showers followed by rain," and "Tomorrow's forecast: rain followed by showers." 17. You have no concept of humidity without precipitation. 18. You know that Boring is a town in Oregon and not just a state of mind. 19. You can point to at least two volcanoes, even if you cannot see through the cloud cover. 20. You notice, "The mountain is out" when it is a pretty day and you can actually see it. 21. You put on your shorts when the temperature gets above 50, but still wear your hiking boots and parka. 22. You switch to your sandals when it gets about 60, but keep the socks on. 23. You have actually used your mountain bike on a mountain. 24. You think people who use umbrellas are either wimps or tourists. 25. You buy new sunglasses every year, because you cannot find the old ones after such a long time. 26. You measure distance in hours. 27. You often switch from "heat" to "a/c" in the same day. 28. You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit under a raincoat. 29. You know all the important seasons: Almost Winter, Winter, Still Raining (Spring), Road Construction (Summer), Deer & Elk Season (Fall).

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Fix a flat and 1st Race

I forgot to mention that I flatted on the way back from Vancouver about 2 hours into the ride from this little bad boy next to the bottle of Corona – nice screw!.


I was kind of out in no-man's land I thought and had even phoned in to Heidi that I needed a lift. I had walked about 1/8 of a mile when a roadie stopped and gave me a new tube. I don't think he was commuting since he had no bags and was in a full navy and white Specialized kit. While I was changing the tube out another biker passed and offer the usual "Everything ok?" So I guess bikers are friendly out here.

I stopped at Performance yesterday to buy a couple tubes, tire levers, and a portable pump so I don’t get caught like that again [if you’re reading this thanks Mom!  I finally used those gift certificates you gave me 1.5 years ago!].  They can be a little pricey but it’ll work for the short term.

I also stopped in another bike store to have my mtn bike worked on.  The guy writing up the service ticket was very cool.  He moved out here from Michigan about 7 years ago and loves it here.  Says the mountain biking is awesome.  More hills.  But your riding through a friggin rain forest!  It appears that it’s a little less organized compared to the whole WORS circuit thing but I got the feeling that they like it that way when he started mentioning grabbing beers after the races.  I think I’ll fit right in since that’s the way our crew operated back in the Midwest.  Laid back.  Sounds like the races are more individual and not strung together into a series.  Apparently the site to check all the stuff out on is Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA).  It also sounded like road racing is a little more popular than mountain biking but that cyclocross has them both beat.  This is much different than back in the Midwest.  There’s a pretty full schedule on the site.  I think I’ll try my first race – the 20th Peak Sports Muslinger – on March 26th – 4 weeks away!  Looks like it’s being held in the Coastal Range in a small town called Blodgett, OR.  Funny how they not only mention the course distance but also the feet.  That must be the feet of climbing!  I think I’ll try sport to begin with – 21 miles and 2800 ft of climbing.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

3 Day Weekend

When isn’t a 3 day weekend a good weekend?  I had Monday off.  Presidents’ Day.  That’s weird since I’ve never had that off before.  Back home we usually have Good Friday off.  Not out here.  Old world vs new world – sensitivity to favouring Catholics?  /shrug

Monday I did a 3 hour ride.  I rode to work and back.  Took about 1 hour 20 min for 19 miles to get there.  I had to stop in Starbucks for a hot tea and refill my water bottle on the way back since the extra I brought along flew off the back of the bike somehow during the ride.  When I left the house it was sunny and warm (high 40’s) but as soon as I crossed the Willamette River (1/4 of the way into the ride) the sun ducked behind some clouds and it got a little colder.  My feet were so cold they got numb and I had that hot swollen toe feeling as I sat in the Starbucks.  Starbucks are all over the place here by the way.  You can’t go 4–5 blocks without running into one.  And the thing is there’s always people in them.  You’d think with so many of them that there would be some saturation.  People are sitting around relaxing drinking or eating and reading or conversing.  It’s actually quite a relaxing atmosphere.  I had a short conversation with a deaf guy that was pointing at my bike because I had left the flashing head-lamp on when I came in.  He was a really nice guy.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to do this ride for awhile.  First figuring out how to cross the Willamette river and then figuring out how to get to the major bridge that crosses the Columbia river into the state of Washington.  Crossing that bridge was interesting.  Most of the time out here the roads are extra sensitive to bicyclists.  They have generous bike lanes on almost every street as well as bike specific traffic lights!  Well Washington isn’t so bike friendly and Portland likes to stick their nose up at them.  One reason is for the most part people commute from Washington (mainly Vancouver which is the major town on that side of the river) into Portland for work – causing wear and tear on the bridge (that’s already seems ancient to have an Interstate on it!).  Then they bicker about who’s going to fund it to renovate it and so on...  So Portlanders have this status thing and have words to describe Vancouver like, the Couve or Vantucky [not unlike the FIB or Flatlander or Cheesehead or Cheddar Curtain terminology back home].  So the bridge is kind of like this unwanted thing that connects Washington to Oregon. 

Anyway so the commute across this bridge is precarious.  There’s only like a 3 foot wide section that you can ride and if I run into a pedestrian or another rider I’d definitely have to stop.  On one side you have a 3–4 ft steel railing and then it’s a long long drop into the river and on the other side you have these steel girders coming down with huge rivets and vehicles zooming past at 60+ mph causing little wind gusts that push on you.  I had to keep my eyes straight ahead and not let them wander to check out the mountains or river too much for fear I’d wreck myself something bad.  It’s also easy to build up speed because obviously the bridge is not flat.  It’s crests in the middle so there’s quite a climb on one side and then a decent descent on the other where you can build up speed. 

I should’ve stopped and taken a shot while I was on it now that I think about it but here it is just before I entered it.

Entering I-5 Bridge

On my way back I had to cross a bridge that spans the Willamette river as well.  As your coming back (South) across the river, there’s a friggin’ stoplight just for bicycles!

Bicycle stoplight

I did alot of Olympics watching.  I always seem to gorge myself on the Olympics when they come around.  How often do you get to see sports like Snowcross!

Heidi and I also went to Doug Fir on Sunday night to check out a few bands.  The opening band was called The M’s (review).  They sounded alot like the Beatles and were the best show of the night.  They were also from Chicago!!!  The second band was called Heroes and Villains – they are from Portland.  Interesting music – very artsy.  They had 3 guys and 2 gals and the one gal could really sing.  I think they are a local band that hasn’t really released a major CD yet.  I did find this web-site that has some music on it though.  The headliner, all this for just $8 BTW, was Archer Prewitt.  Maybe it was just getting late or we were tired but this guy was putting both Heidi and I to sleep… and we were friggin standing!  Of course they were serving good beer and the venue was small and cool.  Definitely want to check out this place again.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Mt. St. Helen's

From my office I can see Mt. St. Helen's and today there is smoke/steam/whatever rising from the top of it! So here you have a Midwestern boy who's yet to even go out and explore a mountain, never really seen mountains up close except driving on highways and today there's a Volcano smoking outside my window! This is a link to the Mount St. Helens VolcanoCam. How big is Mount St. Helens? Big. I can see it on the horizon to the north while driving in on the expressway and to the east the immense Mount Hood. I took Heidi to Jo-Bar for Valentine's day. It's the restaurant where we met. It's a very trendy place in the NW Portland. The menu is new each day. She had elk and I had a steak. Now I've never had elk before (and neither had she actually) but it was damn good and this is the Pacific Northwest. Also I thought it was weird that the server gave us a spoon for the bone marrow... that's right. You scoop out the bone marrow and eat it with a spoon. It was ok but the meat was far better. I've been wanting to see the movie Walk the Line about Johnny Cash. I don't really have any of his music and Heidi bought me the The Legend of Johnny Cash CD. I listened to it on the way to work this morning and it was very good. I'm not a country fan and I certainly wouldn't consider it country by the way it sounds. She also got me Teacher Man. Basically it's the 3rd book from Frank McCourt, an Irish immigrant. I read Angela's Ashes (great book [a Pulitzer Prize winner] although it didn't get really good until about half-way through it and he writes in a very strange first person small child-like manner - basically writing as if he was dictating as of whatever age he is the moment the event he's writing about is happening) and Tis late last year (2005). I'm looking forward to reading it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentines Day

Went to see Lenny Kravitz and Aerosmith at the Rose Garden Arena last night. It was a little weird being in the Trailblazers stadium. When I saw Clyde Drexler's jersey hanging from the rafters I couldn't help but remember cheering for the Chicago Bulls back when they played with Jordan, Pippen, etc. Lenny put on a great show - it was the first time I saw him live. I liked the mix of rock, funk, and a little jazz and blues. The guitarist rocked and the trumpet player (19 from New Orleans) was great - Heidi says that's one of the most difficult instruments to play. The sax guy kicked ass too. Aerosmith was good. Not great but good. I think they were a little better when I saw them at Alpine Valley back home. We went with a group of people that had rented a bus. Not your normal bus. It had a bar and felt more like the inside of a limo than a bus. The stereo was kickin some dance music and playing video on a plasma screen in the back of the bus - the whole bus was rocking during the trip back after the show because of everyone dancing - one of the girls even had a few dollar bills getting stuffed down her pants. Yea... its like that.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Only in the midwest

I came across this today while reading Jeff and Doug's blogs. A race course through the skyway system in St. Paul, MN. Pretty good video even through the helmet cam. News footage. Helmet cam footage. The weather here has been gorgeous. 50+ temps and clear blue skies for the last week. It's been nice riding outside. For the time being I'm exploring the local streets downtown and getting a feel for how the city is laid out. It's weird riding around and having all the mountains looming in the background. There is a pic of Mt. Hood I'm going to post as soon as I get web access at home. Heidi and I went to the Japanese Gardens on Saturday... undescribable.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Cheaper Gas?

I still don't have internet access hooked up at home yet. The new flat panel monitor, keyboard and mouse arrive today though so not long now! Heidi and I have been very busy as well unpacking and finding a place for everything. I find it amazing that she values my input on deciding how to organize some things - like furniture location, etc. She also surprised me by taking the digital camera and getting some photo's developed from our trip, then gave me a frame with a couple photo's of us to put on my desk at work! It's nice to have a geek for a girlfriend.

Cheaper gas? That's right. Oregon has cheaper gas than Wisconsin. I figured the liberal state of Oregon would have more taxes on gas than Wisconsin but I guess not. Today is the first day I have to buy diesel gas here in the NW. Check out this site. It also helped me find a station to buy diesel from. Note that it's even cheaper to buy gas in the state of Washington!

RankStateGas $

I see putting a table in here messes up the formatting... nice.

Friday, February 03, 2006


Well Heidi and I arrived in Portland yesterday. Again - I don't have much time to type since I'm using a internet enabled PC at the local library. We took lots of pictures and I have some stories to share. I did my bike first ride in Portland today. The first 2 miles were pretty easy even though I was riding up a very large hill. It overlooked the city and was beautiful. And it wasn't even raining :) So feeling confident I figured I would try this second hill. It wasn't a hill really because it had warning signs about cars needing tire chains. I don't know what the % grade was. We'll just call it ass-kick-grade. I had to stop 4 times to catch my breath and the lactic acid was building in my legs so fast I felt like they were on fire. I couldn't even make it to the top of the hill. It just kept climbing and climbing. The weather was 50ish and I figured I'd be cold but I was a little warm, I was probably over dressed. It started raining on the way home but it actually felt good. Time for some Sushi with Heidi!